May 28, 2014, 8:57 AM EDT
When Canadiens goaltender Carey Price was hurt in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final and ruled out for the rest of the series, Montreal’s chances of beating the New York Rangers seemingly plummeted. In his absence, the Canadiens put 24-year-old rookie Dustin Tokarski up against one of the best netminders in the league in Henrik Lundqvist.
Instead of this playing out as the mismatch it appeared to be, the Canadiens are 2-2 without Price.
“Everybody talks about how (Lundqvist’s) a great goalie. Has he been better than Ticker (Tokarski) this series? I don’t think so,” Montreal forward Rene Bourque said after scoring a hat trick last night, per ESPN.com.
But is the fact that they’ve been even praise for Tokarski or criticism against Lundqvist? It would be easy to question Lundqvist’s play the night after he got pulled, but he’s also one of the main reasons the Rangers have a 3-2 series lead. So while he readily accepted his share of the blame last night, it’s important to not to let that completely sour the good he has done.
Meanwhile, Tokarski has been a bit of a mixed bag. He’s made some great saves, but he’s been far from perfect. Although Montreal’s defense deserves some of the blame for the four goals he allowed on 27 shots on Monday.
He probably could have done more on the first goal against Derek Stepan for example, but Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges appeared to deflect the Rangers’ second goal into his own net and Tokarski didn’t get much help from his teammates on Stepan’s second marker.
At the end of the day, both goaltenders could certainly do more, but Lundqvist is the one that more is expected from.
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